Joseph H. Choate, Jr. (Leading Lawyer and Repeal Leader)

Joseph H. Choate, Jr. chaired the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers (VCL). VCL was a group of highly influential attorneys formed in 1927. It promoted the repeal of National Prohibition (1920-1933). With its urging, the American Bar Association called for Repeal in 1928.

Choate and the VCL worked closely with other repeal organizations. They included the powerful Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Repeal (WONPR). Also the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA) among others. In fact, there were many groups working for Repeal.

Pivotal Role

Joseph H. Choate, Jr.
Joseph H. Choate, Jr.

Choate played a pivotal role in providing valuable assistance to state initiatives to bring about repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.

For example, he spearheaded the drafting of model legislation that states could follow in creating state conventions to ratify Repeal. That is, the Twenty-first Amendment. The effort was successful.

    • Twelve states adopted the draft without any change.
    • At least eight others followed it with slight modifications.
    • Several adopted sections of the draft.
    • Many others used its ideas in developing their own legislation.

The states repealed National Prohibition in 1933. Then President Roosevelt named Choate the first director of the Federal Alcohol Control Administration (FACA).

As head of FACA, Choate let the each state decide how to regulate alcohol within their borders. He then assisted states as they developed their own policies.

           Also visit Repeal Trivia.

Upon Repeal the VCL closed. Prohibition continued to exist in many states and strong temperance sentiment continued.

Resources on Joseph H. Choate, Jr.

         Also see the web pages on Repeal at the bottom of the page.

Works by Choate

    • Reasons for the Repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. An Address. Wash: Lib of Congress, Temperance pamphlets, part 3.
    • America’s drinking habits. Vital Speeches of the Day, v. 2 (1935-1936)
    • Shall America Remain at the Mercy of the German Chemists? NY: Chem Found, 1921.

Works Discussing Choate

    • Kyvig, D. Repealing National Prohibition. Kent, OH: Kent State U Press, 2000.
    • Vose, C. Repeal as a Political Achievement. In: Kyvig, D. (Ed.) Law, Alcohol, Order. Westport, CT: Green, 1985. Pp. 97-121.
    • Lender, M. The Historian and Repeal. In: Kyvig, D. (Ed.) Law, Alcohol, Order. Westport, CT: Green, 1985. Pp. 177-205.
    • Root, G. Women and Repeal. NY: Harper, 1934.
    • Vose, C. Repeal papers of the VCL. Files of Joseph H. Choate, Jr. and Harrison Tweed. Library, Wesleyan U.
    • At the dinner to Joseph H. Choate. In Reed, T. and Ashley H. Thorndike. A. (Eds.) After Dinner Speeches: N-Z. NY: Modern Eloquence, 1923.
    • Parke-Bernet Galleries. Catalogue including items from the estate of Joseph H. Choate, Jr. NY: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1968.

Newspaper Articles about Choate

    • Appeal for Ethel Dickens; Joseph H. Choate again asks aid for author’s granddaughter. New York Times, Feb 7, 1912, p. 10.
    • Class day at Harvard; Joseph H. Choate, Jr. and Herbert Schurz of New York take part in the exercises. New York Times, June 25, 1897, p. 3.
    • Joseph H. Choate, Jr. argues that tariff is not sufficient. New York Times, May 23, 1921, Business & Finance, p. 25.
    • Able players on the links W.B. Cutting, Jr., Joseph H. Choate, Jr., and Dr. Holbrook Curtis qualify for the club cup. New York Times, Sept 9, 1877, p. 4.
    • Friendly Sons banquet; Recorder Smyth and Joseph H. Choate spoke. New York Times, March 18, 1893.
    • German chemists grip our industry, Joseph H. Choate says three billion dollars at stake in dyes. New York Times, March 11, 1921, p. 30.
    • Golf players at Stockbridge; Joseph H. Choate, Jr. and W.T. Gray in the finals for to-day. New York Times, Sept 30, 1897, p. 4.
    • Hovey again golf winner.; Joseph H. Choate presents the Stockbridge cup. New York Times, Aug 21, 1915, p. 7.
    • Joseph H. Choate, Jr. coming home. New York Times, March 3, 1901, p. 4.
    • New York alumni dine; Joseph H. Choate pleas for American shipping. New York Times, Dec 16, 1898.
    • Post for Joseph H. Choate, Jr. New York Times, June 23, 1899, p. 2.
    • Joseph H. Choate to speak a Wednesday night rally. New York Times, Oct 2, 1898, p. 2.
    • $3,000,000 estate to Choate family. New York Times, May 22, 1917, p. 13. (Joseph H. Choate, Jr. received inheritance.)
    • Joseph H. Choate reports on work since June 1 last. New York Times, Feb 25, 1917, Arts & Leisure, p. 35.

Web Pages on Repeal

Leaders of Repeal .  

Timeline of Repeal.

Repeal. End of an Impractical Dream.

21st Amendment Repealed Prohibition.